With the reported signing of Bryce Harper sending all the Phillies fans into a frenzied state of mind, it’s hard to come back to the reality of “ok, now what?” Of course, this question gets a lot easier since we know that he will be in the lineup and not just some figment of our fevered state. Now, we get to play around a decide what the best lineup is for the team moving forward.
As Gabe Kapler said on the podcast earlier this month, he has already begun toying with lineups that include both Harper or Manny Machado. He’s probably even done lineups with both the superstars, which <faints>. That got me to thinking: what does the optimum lineup look like?
At this point, the regulars seem to be pretty much set. J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Cesar Hernandez, Jean Segura, Maikel Franco, Andrew McCutchen, Odubel Herrera and Harper will be the starters. We know who is going to play and where. There more than likely won’t be as much rotating in and out like last year, though with this manager, you never know. But we can probably count on the eights guys making about 80-85% of the starts. Were I the manager (you could only be so lucky...), this is what I would trot out most every day:
That, my friends, is a pretty intimidating lineup. Now, I know there are some quibbles with the way I have it set up, but hear me out.
The first one that is an issue is batting Hernandez at the bottom of the lineup. I know that’s a problem for many, but we’ve seen many other managers bottom an on-base presence in the ninth spot. In this iteration, the goal is to get men on base in front of Harper as much as possible. If everyone does their job, the possibility of only man on base in front of him would be guaranteed only once, in the first inning. It would get Harper more opportunities with men on base if both Hernandez and McCutchen do their jobs and allow the team’s prized free agent acquisition have ample chanced to drive men in.
The second issue many would probably have is the poor fit this lineup has for our standard lineup positions. When we think of a cleanup hitter, a hulking RBI machine comes to mind, not someone in the mold of J.T. Realmuto. However, as mentioned before, we’ve built a new lineup where the team has two leadoff men. It’s just that one of them resides in the ninth spot. Realmuto has shown he is fully capable of driving men himself. We just want to those numbers to go to Harper and Hoskins.
So, I ask you: what is your optimum lineup construction? In the comments, let’s discuss what you think the lineup should be for most of 2019.